In this issue of Perspective, we celebrate the remarkable gift of the Eula Mae and John Baugh Foundation to encourage the work of the Baptist House of Studies, providing substantial scholarships for students from Baptist and Free Church traditions. Our entire school is lifted by this generosity, not just the Baptist students among us.
This gift, and its hoped-for outcome, prompt reflection on the importance of personal connections that cross denominational lines.
“To know only one thing is to know nothing.” We learn most often, and often most accurately, by the act of comparison. We cannot say that something is our best choice if it is our only choice. We test and refine ideas by bringing them into conversation with other ideas. In so doing, we learn about commonalities as well as differences. By looking beyond ourselves, we become our better selves.
The body of Christ extends far beyond any one denomination, time, or outlook. It is not limited to those with whom we most agree. Cultivating this awareness can keep us from errors perpetuated by a lack of perspective.
Studying church history helps to correct denominational myopia, as does reading a diversity of contemporary sources. The best remedy, however, is personal: direct experience of others different from ourselves. Genuine friendships and lasting fellowship across ecclesial boundaries can grow out of such encounters.
It is a rare town of much size, especially here in Texas, that does not have at least one Baptist and one Methodist church. The chances of their working together for common cause—and not simply competing for congregants—increases exponentially if their leaders came to understand and appreciate each other while still in seminary; that is, before they become isolated within the ecosystem of a single expression of the Christian faith.
The Baptist House of Studies at Perkins exists first for the benefit of Baptist and other Free Church students, providing them support, enrichment, and encouragement. Near equally, it exists for the benefit of Methodists and students of other faith traditions. I say this as a lifelong Methodist who had a lifelong Baptist as a seminary roommate. I would not have had the same quality of education without that formative personal experience, and all of us at Perkins will be the better for this new opportunity.
With profound gratitude to the Baugh Foundation,